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Magnesium deficiency?

It is not so easy to recognise magnesium deficiency in the body. Many symptoms that indicate a lack of the mineral may also have other causes. The most common nonspecific symptoms that can well arise in a case of magnesium deficiency include calf muscle cramps, muscle twitching, poor circulation, dizziness, rapid fatigue and even anxiety and headaches. The variety of symptoms can be explained when we consider that many enzymatic metabolic processes are magnesium-dependent. The number of processes that require magnesium is so great, that just listing them would fill the page. For example, magnesium plays a very central role in the transmission of stimuli from nerve cells to muscle cells, the mineralisation and growth of bones and teeth and in supplying energy. As an alkaline mineral, magnesium also adds to the buffering capacity of the body when connective tissues become hyperacidic.

Scientific panels currently assume a daily requirement of 300 to 400 mg of magnesium for healthy people. This amount must be obtained through the diet and should be taken into account in the dietary intake. A good supply of magnesium can be found in, nuts, seeds, oats, whole wheat, unpolished rice and dark chocolate, for example. However, only meeting the recommended average requirement may even lead to deficiency for certain groups of people. This may occur, for example, in people who sweat often and profusely, whether through physical work or doing sport. Among other things, the body excretes magnesium in the sweat. When taking long-term medication, or in the case of indigestion, gastrointestinal disorders and severe diarrhoea, the body also loses a lot of magnesium or can only absorb the mineral to a very limited extent.

As explained above, it is not easy to clearly assign typical deficiency symptoms. Recognising an insufficient supply is made even more difficult by the fact that practically 95 % of the body's magnesium is stored in the bones, the teeth, the skeletal and cardiac muscles and the liver, and only about 1 % is found in the blood. Only a very severe magnesium deficiency can be reliably detected via the blood. But by then, the supply in the bones will already have been largely depleted. One should not let it get that far.

When the requirement cannot be fully met by a regular diet, the conventional remedy is to supplement with a mineral or magnesium preparation.